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Candles vs Fireworks at Tazaungdaing There are two types of fire balloons launched at night during the annual Tazaungdaing festival in Taunggyi . The first packs a payload of thousands of fireworks for an impressive and dangerous display in the sky. The other carries hundreds of candles instead Under these balloons is attached a thin skeleton of bamboo with dozens or hundreds of lit candles attached. If the lantern can lift off, it carries this away, as the candles shift to keep them upright Less dangerous, but still hardly in the safe category Myanmar Burma ThisMyanmarLife
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Fire balloon up up and away! Tomorrow is the full moon, and the last day of the Tazaungdaing festival in Taunggyi . It's been getting noticeably cooler in the evenings as the week has gone by, and people are warming themselves with fires on the ground while they watch the balloons take off into the sky Myanmar Burma ThisMyanmarLife Shan
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Another Day at Tazaungdaing (2 of 4) My second day at Myanmar's 2nd biggest festival, and there were many more people here tonight. In some areas, people were packed like sardines, or in other words, like a shared Myanmar taxi Some close calls with one balloon launching it's payload of explosives right after launch, and another dropping colorful lit candles attached to parachutes directly into a packed crowd But I still have both of my eyes and 10 fingers Myanmar Burma ThisMyanmarLife Taunggyi
Fire Balloon Blast Off On the final launch of my Tazaungdaing experience this year, I decided to head up the hill to get a wider look at the experience. That happened to have been a good plan On the final night of the Festival , the grounds are packed to the brim. That leaves little wiggle room to run if things don't go the way they are supposed to The balloon was ready to go, and the cargo of explosives attached. Even at my distance, I saw a bright light flash. While it was still on the ground, the fireworks (numbering in the thousands) began to launch The team let the balloon lift off immediately, as it launched fireworks down into the crowd and out the sides. People ran in all directions, ducking their heads for cover As the fire balloon continued to rise and drift, it continued to drop fireworks down into the crowd, a couple of them narrowly missing me. We stomped them out as they landed and poured water on the pesky ones Taunggyi Myanmar Burma ThisMyanmarLife Fireworks Fireballoon
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Fire From the Sky (3 of 4) As the fire balloon lifts off, the fuse on the explosive cargo beneath is lit. When all goes according to plan, the fireworks will begin shooting outwards, and later down, once the balloon has reached several hundred feet in the air But not this time Seconds after launch, hundreds of fireworks begin to rain down on the crowd below. Everyone in the field ducks and runs for the limited cover available including myself, avoiding the little bits of fire on the ground along the way. I hear a loud whistle as one whizzes by my head. I've never been in a war zone, but the temporary chaos here makes me think this might be how people feel when you don't know what's going on and you're just trying to get to safety And in a few seconds, the worst of it is over, and people look back up to the sky as the balloon continues to fly away Myanmar Burma ThisMyanmarLife Tazaungdaing Taunggyi
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In The Name of Sleep It was a long stretch of days at the Tazaungdaing fire balloon festival. As the days went by (and long nights), I wasn't the only one in need of catching up on the zZz's Myanmar Burma ThisMyanmarLife Taunggyi
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Flame On After being doused in fuel, the torches that will heat the air inside the fire balloon are lit For each competing fire balloon at the Tazaungdaing festival in Taunggyi , there is a separate crew and tools. That includes the torches that will be used, ones that had been paraded through town the day of the launch When all goes according to plan, the team works like a (relatively) well oiled machine. And that's important, because when a guy is waving around a giant stick with fire on the end, you're going to want to make sure he has a path to get where he wants to go Myanmar Burma ThisMyanmarLife
The New Glowing Faces of Myanmar Of all the visible changes in this country in the past few years, there are few that are as in-your-face as the rapid adoption of mobile phones. The country is one of the fastest in terms of growth in this regard on the entire planet Only 18 months ago, these guys would be chatting around the fire. When foreign investment brought competition into the mobile network space, the price of a SIM card plummeted from $125USD only a couple of years ago, to $1.25 now So whether wandering the streets late at night seeing guys hanging out on the corner, or keeping warm between fire balloon launches at Tazaungdaing festival in Taunggyi , it's not street lights lighting up their faces (there aren't many)... It's their phone Myanmar Burma ThisMyanmarLife
Take Your Chances at Tazaungdaing If thousands of explosives firing down from 27ft balloons made of paper us not your thing, maybe I could interest you in one of a handful of rides at the yearly festival in Taunggyi instead? The list isn't too long Of course there is the tiny rollercoaster which I imagine is about 200ft, or the human-powered ferris wheel. But the most spiffy of all the rides is this one that the locals call in "The Pirate Ship" Speakers blast music at ear-piercing volume to attract riders, with bright and colorful lights attracting other onlookers to at least come near for a selfie. When it does fill up, it rocks back and forth, high enough to be a ride, and with just the right creaking sounds to make you fear for your life But if you have a health issue, you'll have to move on... People with a heart attack are not allowed Myanmar Burma ThisMyanmarLife Tazaungdaing
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The Aftermath of the Launch (4 of 4) The fire brigade, complete with metal shields for protection from the firestorm raining from above, prepare to put out the fires on the ground Last year, there were several deaths at the festival, in large degree due to the cool and damp weather which prevented the balloons from taking off as planned. This year, there are barricades up to keep most from the main area where the fire balloons are launched clear. Still, outside of the fenced area, people are packed tight and often drunk, increasing the chances of injury or worse if a balloon launch goes awry Taunggyi Tazaungdaing Myanmar Burma ThisMyanmarLife
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